The 2017 Madison Her Half Marathon was awesome. It was a great experience, and one made better by the entire weekend, as well as my wonderful family. It was a weekend of emotions, a weekend of finding strength, and the culmination of 6 months of training. It was awesome.
The course was well supported, with aid stations and portapotties every 1.5 miles. This was key, as I always have to pee around 5-6 miles. Every. Damn. Time.
So starting off, I felt good. My knees felt a little stiff, even after warming up, but I wasn’t concerned. Perhaps I should have stretched/warmed up a little more at the starting line. Yay hindsight. As the half marathoners were corralled in the starting chute, I looked at the pacers, saw the 2:00 pacer and knew that was my Rockstar goal. I saw the 2:20 pacer and started out just ahead of her. There was a 2:45 pacer that I wanted to stay ahead of and that would be my Nailed It goal. Finishing was my Just Showing Up goal. I started out strong, pulling ahead of the 2:20 pacer and feeling good. My plan was to walk up the hills (there were 3 major hills), cruise down them, and walk every other aid station as I gelled. This worked well until Mile 5, with a big ass hill, and having to pee.
I walked up that big hill, and once I crested it I started running–determined not to let my daughter see me walking. Sure enough, that’s where my family was waiting to cheer me on! It was awesome giving everyone a kiss as I waited for the porta-potty to free up, then I was back on my way. I cruised down the hill, feeling much better, and cruised to Mile 6.
Mile 6 is my wall. My goal going forward is to increase my endurance past this mark. Miles 6 through 10 were excruciating. My knees started to get stiff, and I had to switch between running and walking with high-knees to keep them bending. I was coaching myself through, 1 mile at a time. Telling myself (out loud) to keep going. Telling myself to bend my knees. “Pick them up!” “Just keep moving!” I had Beatles playing, and I made myself run to 1 song, walk 1 song. I ended up running to more than 1 song at a time, which was kind of the point. Somewhere around Mile 8 or 9 I passed the 2:45 pacer still going out, and I thought to myself, “Good, I’m doing well.”
I must have been in a fog when I saw the 2:45 pacer because it didn’t click I was at the pace I was. Around Mile 10 I looked at my watch, and saw that I was at under 2 hours, so my goal of 2:30 was TOTALLY achievable!! I had to keep moving, but I could do it. Mile 10 was a bit of a blur, but another glance at my watch refocused me and gave me clarity and focus to finish. Mile 11 went much better.
Aid Station partway up the hill on Mile 12 was my last walk. I walked, hydrated, and kept waddling as best I could up the hill. It was literally all down hill from there, and I was so close to achieving my goal so I pushed. As I was gliding down the hill, letting gravity pull me, I came up to Mile 13. I saw a cute little girl in pink pants and a pink tutu and thought “Awww! Another little girl in a pink skirt!” Then I realized it was MY adorable girl! <3 I was SO Happy to see my family again there, cheering loudly for me.
I waived as I passed them, and my daughter started running with me. She was running on the grass, and I told her to come run in the street with me. PR be damned, I’m running with my daughter! We had 2 turns to the finish line as I cheered her along with me. Seeing my daughter run with me made all my knee pain disappear.
We came up to the last bend, approaching the Finish Line.
“When we get to this corner, start running as FAST as you can!” I told my daughter. “3….2….1….GO!”
She kicked on the after burners and we crossed the finish line together! I beat my goal time by 3 minutes, beat my last half marathon time also by 3 minutes, and got to finish with my daughter. SO AWESOME!